How to find your Cheshire ancestors at Cheshire Archives
Discover how to find your Cheshire ancestors within the wealth of information held at Cheshire Archives. Find ancestors around the UK with our regional guides.
Little beats the experience of viewing our archive collections first hand here in Chester where our Duty Archivist and trained and helpful staff are always on hand to provide guidance and advice. However, modern digitisation techniques have also allowed us to enable people to experience the collections remotely through our website or other outlets such as Find My Past. Over the last 15 years we have set out on a programme of digitisation to make the most used collections available online, allowing people around the world to find their ancestors.
Our most heavily used collections are available through the subscription website Find My Past as part of the Cheshire Collection This includes parish registers of over 350 parishes. These provide access to baptism, marriage and burial details from 1538 to 1911 and are our main records for getting people started on their family history journey. If they were married by license we have marriage license bonds and allegations and if they were non-conformist and Roman Catholic we have baptism, marriage and burials from the 17th century to 1910.
You may find more details about your ancestors in our digitised wills and probate records which cover 1660-1911 or perhaps you will find them in the workhouse records. You can also search the electoral registers 1842-1900, land tax assessments 1786-1832 and school admission registers. All these records can be searched by names, place and dates or browsed by volume.
Find your ancestor within Cheshire Archives
We are lucky to work with a large group of enthusiastic volunteers who over the years have compiled databases of records that are name heavy. So, if your ancestor was a Freeman of Chester, worked on a ship registered at Runcorn, worked for a railway company in Cheshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire or Wales, or was in Chester Gaol there is a good chance you will find them in our databases. We also have a database of persons buried at Overleigh Cemetery in Chester, so if you can’t find your ancestor in the parish burial registers you may find them here. We are always adding new databases to our website so please regularly have a look to see what you might find.
Currently we have volunteers remotely transcribing the absent voters lists of the First World War and helping to describe our medieval deeds collection.
See the places where your Cheshire ancestor lived
If you are interested in the places where your Cheshire ancestors lived, you are also in luck. Our pioneering and popular tithe map website allows you to view historic maps side by side to see how an area has changed. The maps featured include the tithe maps with land use and ownership details 1836-1851, Ordnance Survey maps 1875-1910 and aerial photographs from the 1970s and 2000. Our trade directories are also a valuable resource for finding out about local businesses, street names, residents and important organisations in a town. These can be searched on our website for the dates 1781-1840.
We regularly receive enquires from interested people of Cheshire and from further afield in the UK and across the world. If we don’t have what you are looking for online, our records can be viewed at the Record Office in Chester. We are open Tuesday to Friday 9am-5pm and every third Saturday of the month 9am-4pm. If you are unable to visit the Record Office in person we also provide a copying service and a research service.